Thursday, February 28, 2008

News Flash, GWB Campaigning For Obama

Maybe you're thinking you've missed a news story, nope, you've seen it. Barack Obama has repeatedly stated he would meet with foreign leaders without preconditions, so George II has stepped up to help him according to Reuters .
"I'm not suggesting there's never a time to talk, but I'm suggesting now is not the time ... to talk with Raul Castro," Bush told a White House news conference after being asked about Obama's willingness to meet with the new Cuban president, Raul Castro.

"It will send the wrong message. ... It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity," Bush added.

"I believe Senator Obama better stay focused on his campaign with Senator Clinton, neither of whom has secured their party's ... nomination yet," Bush added.

If you're thinking "I don't see him helping" you might be missing the dynamics, if a guy with less than 30% of the public thinking he's doing a good job says you're screwing up, that is darn good validation. Most of us have seen just exactly how good BushCo foreign policy has worked out and if they don't like it, that negativity is a pretty wonderful thing to have.

Now Hillary has to be upset that she wasn't attacked, but that attack would have had to involve plagarism of BushCo policies. That may be some of the press unfairness they've been complaining about. I'm not sure how to work it around to that, but I'm sure the pros will be able to manage. It apparently is unfair that she went from the de facto nominee to a near dozen loser and the news reported it...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ohio Democratic Debate

Hillary starts out in the hole with me, I admit it. I have disliked her version of politics and her support system from early in her Senatorial career. I have found her to be a duplicitous corporate whore. She is a political opportunist who does not seem to be overly bound by principles, whether in votes or language. Obama was pretty far down my favorites list when there were more than two candidates, but then and now...

While Hillary claims the mantle of experience and credit from the Clinton Presidency, she manages to dodge the disasters and mistakes, somehow. Both are making big claims about providing health care to Americans, well, not so much. Both are handing business to health care insurers, along with the profits. This is the same old privatisation of government that BushCo has run. I'm real underwhelmed. There is the matter of Hillary thinking she can force me to buy insurance, really?

If there is a matter of debate, it seems to be whether hope on Obama's part means anymore than expelled air. I think I'll take his hope over her divisiveness, on political chops they're not really so very different. She seems to make cases about Obama not having responsibility when the vote for use of force in Iraq occurred, but the takes credit for First Lady irresponsibility to voters. I found her forcing of issues of semantics with Obama, virtually stupidly lawyerly, sort of like "what the definition of is, is." This is what things seem to degenerate into, Hillary trying to make the case that she's a fighter, not in doubt, and Obama's charm, also not in doubt. So what?
OK, I'll take Obama getting a large portion of the populace on his side over her tough guy image.

I could have given this mess a miss, real answers were short. I suppose it was no more than curiosity about just how much of a swing Hillary would try to take at Obama. Nothing that really amounted to more than game playing on her part. How well this will play with voters is open to question, they might care about of something of consequence. Pah, I'm tired of it.

I'll make guesses, I don't think this debate will win Hillary any votes she wasn't going to get anyhow and it probably didn't raise any doubts about Obama. If Hillary had something to say that was of import, this might have made a difference, I certainly didn't hear it. If there was something for a candidate to gain from having the last two debates it would seem to be for Hillary to do it. Texas looks like a tie and Ohio is narrowing Hillary's lead, a candidate who is doing everything right doesn't need debates, they simply become opportunities to do something harmful. If that equation is correct, Obama lost nothing.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Cynicism of Politics, Welcome Back Joe McCarthy

Cynicism in politics is scarcely a something new under the sun, if you were to search back through our history as a nation there are plenty of eras with their own particularly egregious examples of phony issues, issues dressed up at something they're not, and just plain fear mongering. If you'd like one with some real contemporary parallels you need look no farther afield than Joe McCarthy, he even has a political period named for him, McCarthyism. Joe worked up some of the best confluences of all the worst of cynicism in politics.

There was an actual issue, the Soviet Union had an expressed disdain and hostility toward our economic model and our form of government. This was true to the extent that it was their expressed policy to destroy both - that would be pretty inclusive the USA. What was an issue became something else, a movement. One that tore the nation apart and was entirely political in nature and aim. The aim was political power and Party gain and to be attained at the expense of others.

The means were simple enough, start with fear of the USSR, throw in some actual espionage, dress it up as a national phenomenon, and then create the phony issue of Communist agents widely spread in the government, to the point of searching the entire nation for "fellow travelers." Quite a few did well from McCarthyism, journalists, politicians, political appointees, and even some actors in contrast to the many who were harmed. McCarthy eventually imploded but R M Nixon got his real start from the hearings. There was power to be had and it was gotten, it cost many it great deal but in the cynicism of politics the gains outweighed the loss of the citizens. Understand in the plainest terms that there were devastating consequences for individuals and also the nation's social and political structure. Un-Constitutional laws were passed and governmental - in fact Congressional - over reaching was endemic.

You could look at the War on Terror and find eerie similarities, there is an actual issue, a threat, from those outside this nation with an agenda of harm to it and the possibility of those within. What has grown from that threat is a war in Iraq, national discord, fear of attack, and governmental over reach. The political gains were large but the damage to the military and to the social discourse was immense not to mention Constitutional harm. It could be argued that the difference was McCarthy's deliberate and probably premeditated use of lies for political gain from the start. The so-called Blair Memo might raise questions in regard to BushCo. What cannot be argued is the amount of political gain for the Republicans and monetary gain for their corporate allies. The political gains, while significant, were short term, a near repeat of the history of McCarthyism. The damage to union leaders and the creative sector was longer term, the wreckage of personal reputations and organizational reputations lasted quite awhile. We may see similar consequences for media organizations and the military this time. The harm to the intelligence apparatus which was so blatantly misused continues and may have very bad long term consequences.

Possibly the most enduring damage may be to the fabric of the Constitution. The second Bush term, won largely on the strength of the fear vote, created the appointment of more Supreme Court Justices with mindsets similar to Bush administration officials and a disinclination to over rule the authoritarian measures they've instituted. This is a serious outcome, the Court is the last legal bastion of Constitutional protection, beyond the Court it falls to the Congressional delegations, which have proven nerveless and the people who have proven apathetic. Much is made of the current Presidential candidates and a probable Democratic Presidential win, however, any reaction from the candidates has been muted at best. Making an assumption that either Clinton or Obama would take on an anti-authoritarian agenda ignores both having clear anti-Second Amendment policies, which is authoritarian politics.

Because the Republican Party managed to so politicize the entire Executive structure the damage may take decades to undo. The political appointees can be replaced easily enough and because this is common policy can be done with minimal uproar. Where the rub occurs is within the ranks of career hires. These people may have been hired on the basis of political vetting rather than competence, but removing them on the basis of political orientation is rightly difficult. This creates a structural deficiency, these people will be in play, no matter the administration that replaces the current cynics. Where applicable, criminal prosecutions might encourage an out flow. Don't expect good results in the very near future, this may require a great deal of patient and dedicated opposition to the government and its arms. It will take people of nerve to fight these people every step of the way.

Oh yeah, Joe McCarthy died disgraced and drunk, RMN resigned ahead of impeachment and is still reviled, we might be able to hope for George II and his ilk to have unhappy futures - that won't fix the damage, but might serve as a warning post.

Why the Revolution Isn't Happening

My apologies to regular readers who've been wondering what happened to posting on a regular basis; I've been ill. It is actually a bit more than illness, it also has a bit to do with my having a temper. By the time I had finished watching our Senate hand George II another piece of our rights and our protection from corporate misdeeds I was furious. The fact that the House let the FISA mess expire didn't assuage the boil over. I am ordinarily quite capable of expressing my outrage without losing my mind but the combination of a rather rude flu bug and the steady Congressionally approved erosion of American liberty finally short-circuited my thinking processes. I found myself looking at the screen and keyboard with disbelief, amazement, and fury; and no words. Just stalled and stuck in place.

It might have been mitigated if either Democratic candidate had gotten up on their hind legs and said something...anything, really. It didn't help in the least that friends I like were also losing their minds, it isn't the least calming to hear, "I guess we'll just have to meet on the village green." As furious as I am, this one just pokes all the wrong buttons. As an adamant supporter of the Second Amendment I have looked carefully at the intentions behind it and the current societal conditions and the results are not calming.

While there are side benefits to hunting and other sporting activities involved in the Second Amendment, and noted at the time of the framing debate, the purposes are the defense of a "free state." The expression "free state" was a deliberate usage, it is a universal concept rather than the narrow one of, for example, 'the United States' or 'the nation' or 'the free states.' In this usage "state" is not a geographical concept but rather one of condition, the condition of all people though most particularly the citizens of the US. That there could even be discussion of this concept, much less heated debate, makes rather definite statement about the state of the American citizenry. We all abhor the pointless lawless violence the is perpetrated in our schools, malls, streets, and homes; but a large percentage of the population seems to have forgotten that life is a very risky proposition and liberty increases the risks.

Murder and mayhem are scarcely new phenomenons in this country, for a large portion of our history it was the everyday norm for many. The frontier history is more recent for those of us in the West, but the frontier started at the Atlantic Ocean at one point. The states of Ohio and Kentucky were scenes of incredibly brutal violence, primarily between settlers and Native Americans but also including the French, later the British, and even between the settlers themselves. These conditions played out in varied degrees from ocean to ocean and the institution of law enforcement (civil or military) did not cause a cessation. Being on the leading edge of human condition is an incredibly dangerous situation.

The mistake people make is in thinking that law was and is the operative concept, it is human behavior that is in operation. Giving human beings liberty is not a safe sort of thing to do, humans are incredibly variable in behavior as a species. They are given to all kinds of extremes and law does no more than punish the behaviors. Laws do not stop behaviors, moral and ethical judgements do. The judgement may come down to no more than a weighing of possible consequences, but legal sanctions are only an add on, not the determinant. Committing robbery, for example, has always had possible negative consequences which may in fact have been more serious and more sure in the absence of law. It is a fallacy to believe that the law stops people who are willing to ignore consequences. The Framers decided that the benefits to the citizenry far outweighed the risks, risks they were fully aware of.

Today, many believe that we are or should be much more secure and safe now than then. Why people believe that armed bands of depredation have disappeared or would disappear simply in the face of Law is an odd question. Behavior is linked to much more than simple legal consequences, those considerations are really at the end of the line of behavioral determinants. This attitude of safeness leads to considerable outrage when it is proven unfounded. Certainly we would rather be safe than at risk, but druthers have little to do with reality, and this is aggravated by our Founders ideas.

The Constitution sets out a framework of how to govern, the Bill of Rights sets out specified human conditions that government is not allowed to trespass on, specifically prohibited governmental behaviors because these states of being are assumed to be precedent to government. Not allowing the government to attempt to interfere in these areas was at the time the leading edge of political science, it was essentially untried and acknowledged as dangerous. It is still the leading edge of political science, there is no government on the face of the earth with stronger prohibitions of interference with human rights. There is a reason this is true, it is damned dangerous. And we're throwing it away in search of illusionary security.

This is the populace of today, the one that is willing to ignore the simple language of the Bill of Rights in order to secure the non-existent safety promised by political organizations. Contrast that desire with the at any cost defense of liberty and see which is most prevalent. The idea that Revolution could now occur on the basis of the intangibles of the Bill of Rights is awfully optimistic. The simple reason the Second Amendment is within the Bill of Rights is the ability to secure a free state of being, the ability to withstand foreign or domestic assaults on that state of being. In the face of a national military, the final ends are personal security from others and citizen security from our own government's depredations.

Inherent in the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the Constitutional document is the acknowledgement of governmental inclination to abridge the natural rights of citizens and its final dissuasion is the right to keep and bear arms. You have to look at the entire document to understand that it is essentially a blueprint for Revolution. Freedom of religion, speech, and press allow the breeding of and dissemination of Revolutionary thought. Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure allows the infrastructure of Revolution. The keeping and bearing of arms allows the physical means of Revolution. Follow on through the Bill of Rights with this state of reasoning and each will reveal a tool of rebellion, and why not? These were the instigators of a Rebellion against a lawfully constituted government to whom they had historical and societal ties, deep ties. We were given all the tools needed to physically "throw the rascals out."

This is what the government is in the process of dismantling to limited citizen outcry. There is good reason why the outcry is limited, it is natural to crave security and materialistic success. Those cravings are exactly what is at risk with the form of Liberty the Framers envisioned and we are so far from the obvious frontier requirements of personal responsibility and risk that the depredation of Liberty goes almost unnoticed. This is the citizenry that we could expect to hold responsible for their own Liberty? One of the reasons guns become such a flash point is that they are an actual physical and materialistic expression of liberty, it is easier to hold in your hands a Colt than it is to wrap your mind around governmental snooping, or the funding of chosen religions. The immediate bark of a Winchester is more obvious than the whimper of corporate media in the face of governmental misdeeds. But that does not a Revolution make.

The American people sat on their hands when RICO was passed, it was not a matter of their house payments or grocery bill, even though the depredation on the Fourth Amendment was clear. It was touted as a tool applicable to the Mafia, a feared and despised minority. The problem is that however feared and despised and nastily criminal the Mafia is, they are also by definition, us. What is applicable to the Mafia is equally applicable to ordinary citizens, if the government doesn't like what you and some associates are up to you can easily find yourselves designated a criminal conspiracy and subject to some truly draconian outcomes. All it takes is a few more little baby steps like The Patriot Act or Military Commission Act to make it so. In the time of the Framers, instigators of actions allowed by RICO would have found themselves at best tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail, and today almost nobody notices. This is the bunch somebody expects to build a Revolution on?

The political appellation of authoritarianism is not Party determined, it is an outlook and desire for a type of political action. The mindset seems more prevalent in the Republican Party, but that is, perhaps, due to the more heated rhetoric of the extremes of the Party and the out of control just past Republican Congress. RICO was passed by a Democratic Congress, and the more egregious offenses on the Second have been at the hands of primarily Democrats. The current Democratic Presidential candidates are both notorious gun banners and supporters of blatantly un-Constitutional gun activities. It is not a Party affiliation that is dangerous to this nation's Liberty, it is the mindset of those we elect and our refusal to hold them accountable. Authoritarians should be opposed at every pass, at every opportunity, whether their stated ends match our own or not. That is not the case, not for the ordinary gun owners, press, religions, or even speech advocates, they ignore what does not impact their pet idea. This is what Revolutionary thought has to contend with, figure a considerably larger chance if the issue was economic and materialistic. Short of another Great Depression or the grinding plutocracy of the Robber Barons expect more of the same. Toilet paper and the Constitution's parts respecting Liberty have a lot in common, in DC, Statehouses, and your houses.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Senate Leads the Way, Wiretapping

When the Framers wrote the Constitution and laid out the terms of office for the Congressional bodies they had some ideas of the consequences. They invisioned a House with short tems that was responsive to the immediate concerns of the voters and innovative in outlook. The Senate, on the other hand, with its six year terms was to be the deliberative and reflective body, the conservators of Constitutional law and source of stability. This was stood on its head this week.

The President, George II, was on the air this morning stating that the "Senate leads the way" on wiretapping and immunity and that it is critical pass this bill before it expires. There are two pieces of nonsense involved in this statement and the reporter's deferential treatment of his statements. The first is that the expiration involves no change in the underlying FISA law which allows up to 72 hours of emergency wiretapping preceding a warrant granted by a Secret Court whose level of resistance to such activities is suspect at the least. The second piece is his stated willingness to veto any bill lacking immunity for the telecoms, an extremely odd view to hold in the face of his fear mongering. The supposed financial well being of some telecoms who cooperated with the government, note that Qwest and a couple others did not, and broke long established law and privacy policies trumps the fear he's peddling. Money is more important than your "security." The President even offered to delay his African visit, he might not go on a vacation, might not if the House gets moving.

The head of BushCo claims the experts in his security apparatus all agree this is critical, a claim that was met with silent assent from reporters. There is serious evidence that what the White House and telecoms got up to was not anything like a targeted terrorist list being listened in on, rather a blanket listening program, simply sweeping up everything. This bunch that is supposed to be taken seriously on an extaordinarily sensitive issue concerning the Bill of Rights is the same group of people who authorized torture and secret prisons by the US. There are a few other balls they managed to drop while "protecting" us, Iraq WMDs, 9/11, Iran bomb research, in fact virtually every piece of fear they've touted. I'm disinclined to trust my liberties to torturers and data manipulators (um, that would be liars).

The Republicans just walked out of the House in protest of the Democrats not scrambling on the Senate version of the wiretap bill. The House had already passed a version lacking immunity. John Beohner (R-OH) is claiming a Democratic stunt, "their hands slapped away" from taking "resonsible" action. We're "at risk" and the House Republicans "will be here" until this bill is passed. Anybody know of a more partisan pol than John Boehner? Mr "Obstruct All Costs" Boehner, whose publicly leaked agenda is to block all Democratic actions, is accusing Democrats of playing politics? Less than 1/4 of our Senators give a rat's patoot about your civil liberties and commercial complicity in their violation, a whole 21 of them aren't craven traitors to their oaths to the Constitution. For some obscure reason Republicans, the supposed upholders of small limited government, have become the tools of authoritarian usurpation. In case you've missed it, their version of conservatism involves leaving the putocrats open season on the wealth of the nation and one that stomps on any behavior they find "immoral." If the NRA hadn't traded its political influence for right wing crap they'd be after our 2nd Amendment rights as hard as they're after the rest. (Republicans just walked back into the House - got their 15 minutes of camera time) Since the House has already passed a bill lacking immunity will they have the nerve to stick to their guns? With the Senate rolling over it doesn't look good, a storm of protest might...

Let's look at a couple realities regarding immunity, the BushCo claims future cooperation would be endangered by current lawsuits. What is for sure endangered is obvious violation of the law by private enities acting on the government's behest. If certain arms of the government made false representations to the telecoms there are plenty of fiscally beholden legislators to allow them suits against the goverment. If no such representations were made, if no one told the telecoms what they were getting up to was legal, they deserve to be handed their heads. This immunity process is not about protecting the telecoms, it is about protecting BushCo. Telecoms will fight tooth and nail to protect their wealth in court and if there is responsibility to be shifted on George II's regime they'll toss it overboard in a hearbeat. There may be some folks looking at actual prison time for federal felonies, that could conceiveably include the kinglet.

At some point Americans are going to have to either get along with the idea that liberty is a risky business or just give it up. BushCo is not the first to make grabs on our Rights, but they may be the most egregious offenders. I am pretty certain Americans only take this kind of thing seriously when it involves their pet Rights and by the time it does, they'll just roll over. Some won't, but they'll just be labeled loons and be ignored by lemming majority. The saving grace in this assesment is that the American Revolution was started by a cadre of loons.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ashcroft Defends Bush, and the Indefensible

"The president of the United States has been among the most respectful of all leaders ever engaged in the responsibility of fighting for freedom,'' Ashcroft said, and has been "most respectful in terms of respecting the civil liberties and rights of individuals while engaged in the important task of fighting for freedom."

This is John Ashcroft's version of George II facing the evil dragon with his gleaming silver sword egraved with crosses and the logo "For God and GOP," told to the Missouri Republicans attending the party's statewide Lincoln Days festivities this weekend. You surely don' think he tried to palm this hooha off on reasonable people. If he comes off sounding like a complete ninny in this little report don't blame The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, honestly they played it straight. There is just so much there, well, not there with John Ashcroft, that goofiness is almost guaranteed.

John makes the point that W Wilson and FDR during WWI and WWII engaged in wiretapping and George II has been soooooo restrained. Well, he does fail to mention little nitpicking details like Declarations of War, stuff like that. He does fail to mention that he's been humping for immunity for corporations that violated the law, a law so lax that the government is allowed to violate Constitutional restrictions for 72 hours before asking for a warrant from a Secret Court. Try to wrap your head around this, there is a Secret Court available only to the Government, not for us citizen yokels, only the very special class of government citizens. George II isn't to blame for the existance of this abomination, he's to blame for not being able to stay within those ludicrous bounds.

Bush "respects liberty so profoundly that he has protected it and has safeguarded civil liberties more than any other president in wartime that I know of,'' Ashcroft said.

I am surprised that John Ashcroft keeps managing to live up to he reputation for stupidity, you would think that bar was set a little high for anyone with even a modicum of success in politics. I realize that he couldn't beat a dead man in an election and that he's the guy who publicly hung a drape over Justice, but you'd think...

If you were to try really hard to shut your eyes and scream, "Nyah, nyah, nyah," with your fingers in your ears, you still might catch on to a couple things. Habeas Corpus is entirely dependent on the "kinglets" whim, he says laws regarding the sanctity of your communications are subject to his whim, he says restrictions on torture are subject to his whim, he says the Secret Police (FBI) can break into your home and snoop to find evidence to support a warrant, he says a lot of things that would have gotten him hung not too long after the Constituion was signed. If you think the signers' heads wouldn't have exploded if this crap were explained to them, you've been reading toilet paper instead of history. Confounded George III was run out of the Colonies for considerably less at a hugely larger cost in treasure and life.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

DeFazio Weighs In On DC Ban

Over at Blue Steel Democrats you'll find an article detailing the members of Congress who have filed a brief supporting plaintiff Heller in the DC gun ban case, including Rep. DeFazio (OR-D). Head on over there for more.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Politics of Prosperity, Bush and Clinton

Since George II is talking about prosperity to the right nuts today and Hillary just got done talking about a return to their prosperit, let's take a look at it. I'm going to reference the US Census Bureau's study and I'll use figures that provide an overlook of periods. You will note that the dates involved use periods the figures can reasonable take responsibility for. You have to understand the stance this blog has taken, which is that nobody in very recent history has shown any concern for the entire economic strata.

George II's record actually reeks, these numbers only slightly reflect the bias, the top 0.1% are not addressed and the actual bias in these numbers is striking. The problem is that data on this piece is sketchy at best outside a narrow range of time. The NYT report concerning 2005 is only a snapshot:

While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.
The disparities may be even greater for another reason. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that it is able to accurately tax 99 percent of wage income but that it captures only about 70 percent of business and investment income, most of which flows to upper-income individuals, because not everybody accurately reports such figures.

Moving from there to numbers concerning the more ordinary taxpayers and covering current Bush years we'll use 2000-2006 the last year available. I'll use the US Census method of 20% of income tables and bottom of top 5% in constant '06 dollars. So per Census:

(Bottom) '06/ 20,035 '00/ 20,981 change/ -946 or -4.5%
(2nd) '06/ 37,774 '00/ 38,637 change/ -863 or -2.2%
(3rd) '06/ 60,000 '00/61,086 change/ -1086 or -1.7%
(4th) '06/ 97,032 '00/95,773 change/ +1259 or +1.3%
(-5%) '06/ 174,012 '00/170,026 change/ +3986 or +2.3%
(1%) '04-'05 note that is a single year change/ +14% versus six years above

George II wants to tout his prosperity, by percentages of income 60% of American taxpayers have lost ground under BushCo. His definition of prosperity leave something lacking and he's telling the CPAC that we need more of it and apparently more or the lack.

Enter Hillary and Bill, she's taken experience credentials from Bill and evidently that experience foreshadows her policies and their outcomes:

(Bottom) '00/20,981 '92/17,741 change/ +3240 or +18.3%
(2nd) '00/37,774 '92/33,989 change/ + 3785 or +11.1%
(3rd) '00/60,000 '92/53,363 change/ +6637 or +12.4%
(4th) '00/95,773 '92/81,673 change/ +14,100 or +17.3%
(-5%) '00/170,026 '92/139,419 change/ +30,607 or +22%
(avg 1%) '00/313,469 '92/181,904 change/ + 131,565 or +73.3% Individual Income Tax Returns with Positive Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

I will note again that once the bottom of the top 5% is reached the different taxable income rules and reporting rules mask the size of the gains, capital gains are not paid until realized, meaning paper income is not measured until "cashed in." Please also note that if you are trying to measure Clinton growth versus BushCo growth that the Clinton years measure 8 years of growth versus 6 years for BushCo. The point of the exercise is internal growth and where it occurred and while measuring growth the growth is Adjusted Gross from tax tables which have changed over time meaning that if a larger portion of income is measured against taxes "growth" is shown where reality is something different.

Now if you'd like a snapshot of the bottom of the top 5% here is 1967 to 1992, a quarter century:

(1967) 98,012 (1992) 139,419 change +41,407 or +42.2%,
(1967) 98,012 (1975) 107,102 change +9,090 or +9.3% which is an 8 year span.

What you need to understand about gains and prosperity that has been claimed by either Clinton or BushCo is that it has had much more to do with the wealthy than anyone else. The bottom threshold of the top 5% is obviously well-t0-do but it does not equate to wealth, once 1% figures are reached one does begin to see actual wealth although it is the top 0.1% that controls the wealth of the country in a meaningful way. It should be obvious to anyone with a smattering of political awareness that Republican focus is on that group, what is not so obvious due to rhetorical masking and Party perceptions is that under some Democratic administrations the emphasis is also on the wealthy. Dare I mention the Clinton name?

Peace and Prosperity, Bush Style

"Prosperity and peace are in the balance," the president said AP reports a pre-release of GeorgeII's speach to the Conservative Political Action Convention. That would be the bunch Romney addressed while he withdrew stating he was saving the country from the success of those who'd surrender to terrorism - Democrats. Now if you ain't a plutocrat you may have missed that prosperity and if you've payed any attention at all, you may have noticed a substantial lack of peace since 2002. "So with confidence in our vision and faith in our values, let us go forward ... fight for victory ... and keep the White House in 2008." That is in itself an obvious recipe for success, after all most people think things are just fine.

"Our critics had a different view," he said. "They looked at rising violence in Iraq and declared the war was lost. Some concluded the surge had failed before it had even fully begun. ... We stood our ground and we are seeing the results. ... The progress in Iraq is fragile and there are tough days ahead, yet even the enemy recognizes that they are on the wrong side of events."
I guess we can take it as blind luck he didn't don a flight suit and ...

At some point after 1/20/09 this guy will be immaterial beyond repairing the wreckage he's made of peace and prosperity.

If you think there aren't numbers, here you go, up posts.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney Quits

I just watched the live feed from the big Conservative love fest as Romney withdrew from the Primary. It was the usual red meat stuff, lower taxes, get rid of regulations, weed whack the government, terror, terror, Defeatocrats. So to save the nation from the Democrats in this time of war he's quitting. The folks at the Conservative Political Action Conference were displeased, in fact booed McCain when he mentioned having some disagreements with him.

I'm sure people tired of hearing serial lying on the news won't miss Mitt. It does give McCain the ability to start mounting a national campaign and preserve some Primary money which will not help Democrats who are still battling it out. The media is already making a rather large deal out of this. I am less convinced. McCain has to have that 'conservative' base come out for him in November so he will have to play to them and that short circuits him with Democratic leaning voters. While the media talks about saving resources they seem to forget the amount of interest the Democrats are generating in themselves.

I don't think Hillary is a good candidate to run against McCain, she is too far into his camp in some regards to bring a split and too disliked by non-affiliated voters. Obama seems able to tap into the independents and still keep the more left side of the Democrats activated. (major time out, wife stuck the SSR in the snow) In the end run, this doesn't hurt Democratic campaigns, whoever wins this is Democrat versus Republican as far as campaigning goes so Hillary versus Obama still generates interest, publicity, and contact. The real drawback for the Democrats is that the Republicans won't have Mitt's surrogates busy tearing up the party, too bad, I was just starting to enjoy myself.

One happy result may be people will stop coming here to see if Mitt is gay.

I Guess We Did Torture

Just post WWII:

Sergeant Masatoshi Sawamura was convicted and sentenced to 30 years hard labor for, among other things, "forcing PW to stand at attention for a long period of time, sometimes in cold weather without sufficient clothing and on one occasion, in the nude; throwing a bucket of ice cold water over PW in cold weather;water treatment which entailed forcing water down PWs throat and nostrils using among others a hose, tubes; picking up and throwing PW to the ground; banging head against a wall; raising and lowering a sword on a PWs neck in an effort to make him give information."

Reuters reports that George II instructed Michael Hayden to testify to Congress regarding waterboarding, and he did:

Hayden's admission, the first time a U.S. official publicly disclosed the number of people subjected to waterboarding and named them, drew calls for a criminal investigation. Critics worldwide condemn waterboarding as torture, but the Bush administration has refused to define it as such.
Numbered among the critics worldwide would evidently be the US Military Commission that tried and convicted and sentenced Sgt. Sawamura among others. Neither George W Bush nor the USA was around when the Spanish Inquisition practiced waterboarding, but you might note that one of the all purpose terms for inhuman cruelty and torture is "The Inquisition."

Now somehow you're to be reassured by the statement that we haven't done so for five years, which somehow minimizes the fact. But before you get too comfortable BushCo mouthpiece Tony Fratto noted,

"It is dependent on the circumstances."
I'll just bet that makes you feel better. When Michael Mukasey had to testify before Congress,

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, opened Wednesday's hearing by saying, "This administration has so twisted America's role, law and values that our own State Department, our military officers and, apparently, America's top law enforcement officer, are now instructed by the White House not to say that waterboarding is torture and illegal."

"Never mind that waterboarding has been recognized as torture for the last 500 years," Leahy said. "Never mind that President Teddy Roosevelt properly prosecuted Americans soldiers for this more than 100 years ago."
The question that has to occur to you is just exactly how it is that law suddenly became conditional? If you follow the reasoning of BushCo, there are things that are torture only if it is convenient for them to be torture. If it becomes in "circumstances" convenient to torture then it is not torture. I'm pretty sure Sgt Sawamura had found circumstances that made it convenient to engage in behavior that the US (in a more honorable time) found worthy of 30 years hard labor. George II might find that kind of labor a bit less fun than clearing ranch brush for photographers.

Sometimes it almost seems as though history has a sense of humor. A naval aviator shot down by fellow soldiers of Sgt Sawamura becomes President, has a kid who hides out in Texas during a war as an aviator and then becomes the President who engages in the same behavior Sgt Sawamura did. Ah, it must warm a father's heart with pride...


The Dick just got done calling it a tougher program for tougher customers, so those tough US soldiers who wouldn't cooperate with the Japanese deserved it? Seems we were bombing the snot out of Tokyo and killing a bunch of soldiers on islands across the Pacific...what an asshole.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rush and McCain

Holy cow, you'd think John dumped one of the Rushbo's Oxy pill bottles, talk about unhinged on his Monday show... In case some of you dangerous traitorous Democrats hadn't noticed John McCain is out to destroy the Republican Party in revenge of his 2000 S Carolina loss. In fact he'll see to it that, "The Republican Congress will effectively be neutered." I don't want to throw a wet rag on his addled pate but chances are real good that voters will continue that particular process they started in '06. Not to mention that the squealing coming from him is rather indicative of that condition.

ABC News didn't seem nearly as amused as I am when they noted Rush warning that McCain is a "liberal" though you know as well as I it was pronounced librule. They didn't note whether he slobbered on himself when he accused McCain of courting the pro-choice voters though how that works with McCain's staunch anti-abortion stance must be a product of unspilled pill bottles. Rush wasn't quite as narrow as to just hit McCain with spray, Fred Barnes (for whom I have about as much respect - his wisdom probably comes from martini glasses rather than 'script bottles) came in for some for having the temerity to suggest conservatives give McCain a chance for reaching out to them. "Fred, you used to be one of us!" Limbaugh said. "Now you seem to be all for Republicans having its liberal wing too."

Not to pile on Rush, but I seem to remember your rants having the liberals as the only ones who coddled drug addled loons, you know, sort of like fat addicted radio hosts would be. As a dedicated Republican water carrier I'd sort of think that liberal Republican wing would be a natural home for you. I don't know, seems that devil weed must be worse than Oxycontin though the number of felonies involved in getting a weed buzz are significantly fewer, maybe it involves melanin levels.

The old standby never is far from the hand of Rush, the effete elite liberal media is naturally involved in the conspiracy, "It was just six months ago that if a candidate was endorsed by the liberal media we were instantly suspicious of them," now he said, "we've got drive-by media organizations having orgasms about McCain." You could take that as a reference to the NYT or maybe a slew of West Coast papers from Seattle to LA, but if they're not owned by Moonies they're suspect. We all know what the Oregonian is like, I mean after all look at that left wing nut cake Saxton they endorsed for Governor - you know the one, the moderately liberal Kulongoski wiped the floor with in Blue Oregon. That would be the same left loon Oregonian that endorsed McCain.

Probably McCain's worst sin is, "He's going to reach out to Democrats in Congress," which is entirely reasonble for somebody who wants troops in Iraq for the next one hundred years. Yessiree, that ought to get some slowdancing going on, right after the pro-life anti-gay Christer rant he'll give. I knew a guy who was crushed by a 6,000 pound gear that fell off a chainfall and spent a year in the hospital getting addicted to Oxycontin and even awhile after cleaning up he'd have "spells." That's a polite Southern word isn't it, Rush? Kinda State of Misery sort of word, a down home Cape Girardau effete child of privilege sort of word? A cyste on the butt 101st chAirborne microphone warrior sort of word?

I don't like John McCain's politics one bit, but while he was busy getting knocked out of the sky this faux good ole boy was nursing a cyste where his brain lives. Oh yeah, it's a serious thing those cystes, about one day in the hospital and it's gone sort of life threateningly oh no sort of military 4F sort of thing. I've got to admit, considering all their problems going into an election McCain doing their President's bidding on immigration and a toothless campaign finance law are definitely the biggies. Is it going to bother me a bunch to watch these rabbid rabbits tear themselves apart from the inside out? Only if they start handing out purple heart bandaides to McCain supporters. This is going to be fun in a sick sort of way, you know, like a multi-car NASCAR crash replay in slooooowwww motion.

House Ethics Committeee - Party On

The original intent of the House Ethics Rules was to cut down on lobbyist influence at Conventions banned the lavish VIP galas honoring a Representatives, obviously the idea was going to cut down on some partying, maybe not. The committee has created a loophole of tractor trailer dimensions. The rule is interpreted as meaning parties honoring specifice Representatives and even more broadly as prohibiting only parties sponsored directly by lobbying firms.

Gee, that ought to cut down on the party graft, it isn't like lobbyists aren't any good at finding third party fund dispersers. It also doesn't seem particularly effective if a couple Representatives are lumped together, like say the Nevada delegation. Not that there would be common interests to be influenced in an entire delegation...

Well here's a hat tip to the NYT Editorial Board for noticing and having something to say.

Blog Roll Expansion

During the New Year and this last week Jon Swift provided access to quite a few of the lesser rated Blogs and during both I've expanded my blog roll links with a number of them. I ask you to please go see what's going on with these folks' endeavors.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Mukasey and the Law

When Sen. Ted Kennedy asked Michael Mukasey about torture and got one evasion after another, he asked the question, "Let me ask you this, would waterboarding be torture if it was done to you?" Mukasey's response says something, "I would feel that it was." Yes, sir; that is exactly the point of the exercise, it is because we all would feel it if done to us.

Just so Michael is real clear on the implications of that statement, I will speak for myself. If you do it to me, yes I will consider it torture. Given that through that action you will have removed yourself from my definition of humanity, it would be a very bad idea to ever let me exercise any freedom of action, afterwards. I promise that to the absolute extent of my ability I would make everyone responsible pay for it. Understand the implications of removing yourself from the ranks of humanity in service of power, you become a bug, to be dealt with in that regard.

You might think that a law abiding citizen would be constrained by legal considerations, you abrogated those, you and those you enable. There is an element of absolute horror involved in abusing a helpless human being, someone so absolutely in your power that you can do exactly whatever you decide to do. Law is an artificial construct designed to let us live with each other, it is artificial in the sense that it holds no moral force and constrains through penalties, penalties you will have made moot through torture. What can you do, kill? You will, through waterboarding already have made that a previous reality.

For a more reasoned look at Michael Mukasey's legal views you might check out David Bromwich over at HuffPo. I certainly don't disagree with him, I just thought somebody ought to point out the natural outcomes of such behavior, really sucks.

Stark Co, Ohio Strip Search and Assault

If you think I have polite words to describe my reaction to this, you've got an exaggerated view of my vocabulary. This came to my attention through Crooks and Liars and it is...well you decide what it is.

I am pretty well acquainted with most of our local law enforcement, it's a small town, and I'll bet you odds their reaction would be real close to mine. I hope to God it would be.


If you have blog space, make this stink across the nation, credit C&L.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Oregon Domestic Partnership - A Go

US District Judge Michael Mosman stunned Oregon's gay community when he put the State's Domestic Partnership law on hold prior to its effective date. He has now tossed the plaintiffs' arguments and allowed it to go forward, effective Friday afternoon. The quickness of the ruling came as a surprise to many. While Mosman stated that there were issues in the suit that the SoS should find troubling and address, he noted that there is no Constitutional right to have a signature verified.

This won't lay the issue to rest. Sadly. Proponents of the ban on gay marriage stated repeatedly the they were only against marriage, not civil unions. That may have been true of some spokespersons, but evidently not exactly everybody. How about a reality check of the nonsense.

Marriage in State terms, is a civil contract. It is not in the least religious. The State magnanimously allows religious people to conduct services and finalize the agreement, but the State holds absolutely no interest in the Godly sanctimony of marriage. Their only interest is in the civil contract that subjects the parties to certain responsibilities and grants certain privileges in binding form - civil form. This is entirely an issue between the State and the involved parties, God doesn't get any play whatever, is totally ignored, is flatly pointless and irrelevant. All of the Godly part is entirely the responsibility of the parties involved in joining in contract.

There is, of course, the unfortunate similarity in the names of the institution in both civil and religious ceremonies. Marriage. Churches and religious adherents mean one thing and the State means something quite different by the same term. I've had friends suggest that all State marriages should be called civil unions to get the State out of the God business and end confusion. I object, there are plenty of words in the English language with two meanings and the State has never been in the God end of this. We don't need new words, we need a citizenry that knows its head from a hole in the ground, how about it? I am so tired of treating symptoms instead of the ailment.

Now this blog has continuously taken the same stand in this regard, as a commentary and as a political campaign site :
The same privileges and responsibilities are due to all law abiding Oregonians, and in fact all US citizens of the same description. Any failure of the government to do so, or to in fact deny such is unconscionable. It is institutionalized discrimination of the worst sort. I do not propose to interfere with anyone's religious freedom, or their ability to speak rudely or think stupidly, but I cannot support taking any of that into the arena of civil contracts. It is, flatly, none of your damn business.

I select my friendships and relationships on the basis of character, I have good friends who are gay and I have good friends who are homophobic and most who don't give a damn. I happen to be among the latter, I don't give a damn. My good friends who are gay, happen to be gay in my mind, they are not defined by that. That may disappoint them, because it is fairly central to their being, but I just don't care. I am entirely heterosexual, I don't have questions or doubts about it, so it just isn't an issue with me. It is, in fact, so basic as to be of no meaning whatever. It does not define me, I simply am that. My eyes are hazel, if yours are not, I simply don't care, mine are still hazel and I'm also not impressed that yours are also.

I do what I can to oppose stupidity and meanness, it seems to be a never ending battle. I'm glad for gays that they've gotten their civil unions, but it is thin gruel in the battle. Make no mistake, the battle isn't about gays, it is about our government acting in a proper manner. If you want to be ignorant and mean, that is your business, but I can't abide it in government.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Blogroll Amnesty Anniversery

Jon Swift notes February 3rd is an important day in the evolution of Blogging, it is the day of the bloggletting, excuse me, bloodletting of A lister blogrolls. Atrios of Eschaton began it by deleting a bunch of blogs, the amnesty apparently was his own as the non-A listers went away. The new trend continued all the way to Daily Kos, those clogged rolls were gone, replaced with A-listers linking A-listers.

Jon's very nearly A-list blog (more readers in an hour than I have in a week) instituted its own Amnesty:

Although as a conservative I am opposed to amnesty when it comes to Vietnam War draft dodgers, illegal immigrants and old people, when it comes to blogrolling I am surprisingly liberal, as you can see from the Blogroll Policy I have posted on my sidebar. "I will add anyone to my blogroll who adds me to theirs, whether conservative, liberal, moderate, libertarian or Albigensian, with the exception of spam or porn blogs or anything else your mother would be embarrassed to read," it states. I oppose litmus tests for blogs as well as Supreme Court Justices.
You will find this humble effort on Jon's Blogroll - fairly quickly, but if you're farther down the alphabet it takes a scroll bar to view the roll. This may be a draw back. You will have noticed, if you're a regular reader, that my blogroll of 27 recently expanded by 10 with asterisks that were my selections from Jon's Blogroll's self-selected best. (I guess that's second hand self-selected self-selected - or something odd) My Blogroll doesn't contain any of the big A-listers, I figure if you're a reader of them you know where to find them and these out of the way spots hold some gems you wouldn't see otherwise. The biggest benefit to being on Jon's Blogroll is invitations to post for links, such as the self-selecteds or this post. It is fairly easy to tell when Jon has linked, my readership doubles or more. This site is pretty far down the pecking order, not a Z-list, it is in the top 200K and I have seen a 6M before on Technorati so a P-list?

I seem to have driven off some political readers in the last couple months, gun article Googles are running 3/5 or higher and BlueOregon link-ins are way off. Maybe my skepticism of the two leading Democratic presidential candidates has something to do with it. Well, the US House & Senate Sgt at Arms haven't lost interest. I'm still running numbers that would have pleased me spitless two years ago.

Back to the topic at hand, I do use Blogrolls from sites that interest me and I find interesting sites doing it. I hope mine gets some usage, if you haven't cruised it some, you've missed out. Doing the research to write this thing cuts into my cruising. There is something self-reinforcing in the big A-lists cross referencing each other, some of the high listed blogs got there as much by happy accident as good writing or well thought out analysis and nothing breeds success like success. My Blog's peculiar outlook has a lot to do with its readership numbers, but so does lack of exposure. (there are really good writers with small numbers, not that I include myself)

Consistently interesting blogs aren't that common, it is an uneven terrain out here. I've tried to put some of those into my blogroll while considering my readership's interests so that those folks can benefit from some increased exposure. While you're reading one of these P-list blogs it is important to remember that some real effort goes into doing this stuff consistently. Your three minute read may have involved hours of work, most of us are rank amateurs as writers/editors/publishers and we are all of those.

I try to be inclusive in my rolls, I think most people linking me are linked, so here's the deal: at any time you find something you particularly like, consistently, give me the link and I'll take a look and include it if I agree. It's not the mutual linking of Jon's (and Skippy), I don't have the room or even the inclination to have a mile long roll, but it is something and a way to recognize good efforts that are otherwise ignored.

If you've been under the impression that Blogging is a real easy way to reach large numbers of people, let me point out that being linked in very complimentary terms in an article on a very big A-list blog generated a spike of about 200 verifiable hits to this site. One or more of my headlines has been viewed 9400 some times in the past 7 days on and an infinitesimal percentage of those views resulted in hits. So when I talk about exposure being a big deal, I'm not exaggerating. My Archives, particularly "Ruger No1 in 45-70 Govt" get many more hits each day than current postings not to mention some truly strange Google hits that come in by accident. (very accidentally, very, very)


Jon's article is here and here's what Skippy has to say, I include these because they were partners in crime, so's to speak, in rectifying the massacre. If you come in from one of those sites and ask for a link, I'll put it up and I'd appreciate the same, but I'll ask anyone coming in to at least take a look at another article to get a feel for this place, you may or may not want to link this site once you've had a taste of it. For my readers, please do the same if you pop over to Jon's and if you find something you really like, let me know. I have to admit that my cruising time has dropped with the demands of posting time.

And thanks for coming in, we've got politics, guns, and some fast cars and other eclectic stuff.